Confident West Indies again on quest for World Cup spot via Qualifier
In a similar fashion to 2018, the West Indies must go through the Qualifier for a 2023 Cricket World Cup ticket.
Just like their last Qualifier campaign, the boys from the Caribbean are tipped not to have everything go their way in Zimbabwe, though they should be confident as one of the top teams at the event.
This confidence comes in abundance for all-rounder Keemo Paul, back in the squad to ensure their campaign succeeds.
The 25-year-old comes off two solid outings against the UAE in his return to ODI cricket, and hopes to flourish in Zimbabwe given the opportunity, all while channelling the challenge of the game at the elite level and the experience of over 50 international appearances under his belt.
“I’ve been out for a while and to come back, I’m just really excited to play some cricket and to perform back amongst my friends, people that I call my second family,” the right-arm quick said.
“I’ve always been a hard worker, but I would say I’ve had to dial in more on specifics and get mentally tough to get back here.
Paul joins a squad boasting match-winners up and down the list despite the absence of Shimron Hetmyer and others, and the side are led by a new coach in two-time T20 World Cup-winning captain Daren Sammy.
Sammy’s first assignment in UAE showed promising sides for the West Indies ahead, and Paul believes the new coach can evoke the best out of the squad trying to find its cricketing identity.
“It’s really good to have a legend like Daren Sammy around, he has a very calm demeanour. He is a very cool guy.
“The players feel really, really good and really, really comfortable. He also brings a lot of energy and motivation to the camp.”
Shai Hope leads the side and will prove to be the rock of the batting line-up, on top of keeping wicket. Jason Holder and Nicholas Pooran join Hope as key players, though the group boasts several match winners such as Kyle Mayers, Roston Chase, Brandon King and Alzarri Joseph.
Paul wants to join those names and deliver for his side, and hints a supreme individual effort may come at the Qualifier.
“I definitely think I’m a match winner, I always try to be positive, I always try to be my own hype man.
“I’m at a stage now in my career, where I need to do better and where I need to actually stand up as a match-winner and put in those performances.
“Every game, I go there with that mentality now to be a match-winner, so, I think it is going to come very, very soon.”
The West Indies open their qualifying campaign against regional rivals United States, their first-ever ODI against them. They then face the in-form Nepal, Zimbabwe and the Netherlands in the group stages as they strive for a strong Super Six position with points carried over.
While Paul doesn’t treat cricket as a zero-sum game in terms of gauging success, the all-rounder feels the team are good enough to do the job with ease.
“I wouldn’t say not qualifying would be a failure, but I wouldn’t look down that road because I think we’ll definitely qualify,” he confessed.
“In life, I don’t see anything as a failure. It’s all about learning and moving forward.
“I’m pretty confident and that’s the mood in the camp. We’re up for it, so I definitely think that we will qualify.”
USA, June 18 – Takashinga Cricket Club
Nepal, June 22 – Harare Sports Club
Zimbabwe, June 24 – Harare Sports Club
Netherlands, June 26 – Takashinga Cricket Club
World Cup Record
West Indies lifted the first two ICC Men’s Cricket World Cups, in 1975 and 1979, but have not been back to the final since 1983.
The side finished second-last in the last World Cup, winning two matches in nine outings.
Key Player: Shai Hope
Just three players made more runs across the Cricket World Cup Super League than the West Indies skipper (855 at 45), who raised his bat for three centuries across his 20-match campaign.
Hope will likely play an anchoring role in the side, holding together the team’s innings as his teammates look to attack around him.
Squad: Shai Hope (c), Rovman Powell (vc), Shamarh Brooks, Yannic Cariah, Keacy Carty, Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Keemo Paul, Nicholas Pooran, Romario Shepherd.